This six-part podcast series, hosted by The Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell, a federal judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, explores the role of judges and courts in our democracy, as well as the importance of a Fair and Impartial Judiciary. The podcasts, which include discussions among jurists regarding current cases and legal issues, are made possible through a partnership between the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement.
Grab the Gavel Podcast
This podcast, hosted by The Honorable Zia Faruqui, Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, aims to show the human side of judges – their backgrounds, diversity, and common struggles. Brought to you by The Rendell Center, each episode features an engaging personal conversation between Judge Faruqui and a federal, state, or local judge that provides invaluable civics insights and helps students and educators to gain a better understanding of who they are and how they arrive at decisions.
Judges on Judging Podcast
This six-part podcast, hosted by The Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell, a federal judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, explores the role of judges and courts in our democracy, as well as the importance of a Fair and Impartial Judiciary. The podcasts include discussions among jurists regarding current cases and legal issues.
Supreme Court Lessons
These interactive lessons for high school students lead them through a simulation of an actual Supreme Court case and help them to break down complex constitutional issues. Each lesson begins with an overview of the facts of the case, followed by a brief discussion of the Supreme Court decision. Then, students are asked to take a stand “for” or “against” the majority decision. The cases that the Rendell Center has selected involve student-specific issues and/or those issues shown to be important to youth through their social media posts or active engagement.
Literature-Based Mock Trial Lessons
This literature based mock trial format provides a dynamic interactive opportunity for K-8 students to develop higher-level thinking skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. judicial system and constitutional principles. The Rendell Center’s Mock Trial framework is easy to follow, and its lesson plans – based on classic or classroom pieces of literature – provide teachers with the tools and guidance needed to help their class write and argue a mock trial, and actively take on the roles of defendant, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and court officials.
Congress and the Constitution
Use this information graphic to easily understand the House of Representatives and Senate and the articles and amendments in the Constitution.
Separation of Powers
Instead of placing authority in the hands of one person, like a king, or even a small group of people, the U.S. Constitution divides power. Power is first divided between the national, or federal government, and the state and local government under a system known as Federalism. At the federal level, the Constitution again divides power between the three major branches of our federal government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Discover the battles of the branches in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
“Federalism” is the word used to describe the Constitution’s system of dividing political power between the national government and the states. What is federalism and how does it work? Why did the founders build federalism into our constitutional system and what are the modern debates over federalism today? Explore the National Constitution Center’s Federalism learning module to learn more!
Article III: The Judicial Branch
Article III establishes the judicial branch of government, which is responsible for interpreting the laws. At the highest level, the judicial branch is led by the U.S. Supreme Court, which today consists of nine justices. In the federal system, the lower courts consist of the courts of appeals and the district courts. Learn more about judicial independence and judicial review in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
The Appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor
The U.S. Constitution grants the President the power to appoint people to a variety of government positions. These appointments require careful thought and consideration since the people can have a great impact on the lives of many Americans during that President’s term. Some appointments need even greater thought and consideration, and those are to the federal judicial system and more importantly, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justices of the Supreme Court (and other federal courts) serve lifetime appointments. Their rulings as they interpret the Constitution, and other situations as outlined in Article III of the Constitution, can have far-reaching effects for generations. With this awesome power to appoint comes an equally awesome responsibility to make sure that the individuals are the best people for the job. In this lesson, students will examine the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was also the first female Justice. Students will examine the process by which a President makes the selection and the steps that lead to that person being confirmed by the Senate (or not).